Articles of Confederation (cont’d)

Too often we citizens of the United States of America are somewhat deluded into the assumption that our Constitution dropped fully formed from the heavens.

The beginning of constitutional government was formed in the upheaval of war. There had been no army of the nation. There was, in fact, no nation, just thirteen colonies with a common enemy. None of the colonies had a standing army. There was a tradition of county militias. One of my ancestors, John Higley, was described as the leader of a “trained band.” There was, at the same time, the need for a military force capable of fighting the army of the British Empire. There was no mechanism for recruiting or funding such an army.

The minutemen of Lexington and Concord were made up of these ragtag militiamen. I can’t imagine the charisma General Washington must have possessed to form an army under those conditions without an adequate source of funds. Not only was there an inadequate source of funds to raise and maintain an army, here was not sufficient funds to perform any other governmental functions. The individual colonies did have some accessibility to taxation. Additionally, the founders of the nation were wealthy men who were not averse to using some of their own wealth to support their individual activities.

When it came to formulating a written document that laid out the structure of the new nation, some problems arose. Three major sources of dissention were:

  • Citizens allegiance to an autonomous colony with a separate history and culture
  • The fear that representatives to a central government would be so far removed from their constituents that they would become part of a tyranny
  • The colonies without a border to “unsettled territory” would not be able to grow and expand westward and so would be of lesser importance than the colonies that could expand.

Coming next are the solutions to these problems which allowed for the passage of the adoption of the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Unity.”

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